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Monday, August 21, 2006

Poll: Widespread delusion among parents about kids' health

A poll of Canadian parents show they drastically discount the size of their children, a Scripps Howard News Service story reports.

"Parents seem to be looking at the health of their own children through rose-colored glasses," said Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, president of the Canadian Medical Association, which commissioned the survey.

The poll found that only 9 percent of parents believe their children are overweight. Researchers found that 26 percent of the children of the parents polled were actually overweight or obese.

Here is the full article:
Poll: Widespread delusion among parents about kids' health
By ANDRE PICARD
Toronto Globe and Mail
21-AUG-06

A new poll shows that only 9 percent of Canadian parents believe their children are overweight or obese. That is markedly less than the 26 percent who are, in fact, overweight or obese, according to data collected by a federal agency, Statistics Canada.
"Parents seem to be looking at the health of their own children through rose-colored glasses," said Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, president of the Canadian Medical Association, which commissioned the survey.
Over all, Canadian children rated poorly in the eyes of adults, with only 6 percent garnering an "A" for overall health among respondents.
But, again, those surveyed had a much higher opinion about the behavior of their offspring, with 40 percent of them earning top marks.
Collins-Nakai, a pediatric cardiologist, said she worries that the self-delusion of parents is cushioning kids from reality and will lead to poor health outcomes.
"I have a very real fear we are killing our children with kindness by setting them up for a lifetime of inactivity and poor health," she said.
The CMA, which represents the country's 62,000 physicians, releases an annual report card to measure public feelings about the health system.
The overall grades vary little from year to year, with two-thirds of Canadians giving the system high marks (A or B).
What is new this year is the report card's focus on child health, a central issue at the CMA's policy convention this week in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
The group is expected, among other things, to call on Ottawa and the provinces to adopt specific targets for improving child health, and to support the adoption of a Charter of Children's Health.
The survey asked what immediate initiatives should be taken to improve the health of children.
Respondents showed broad support for mandatory physical education from kindergarten to grade 12 (92 percent), a mandatory school curriculum on the benefits of physical activity and healthy diet (87 percent), and removing all junk foods from schools (81 percent).
In the poll, parents showed a desire for better nutritional information and warning labels on food, tax breaks on health foods and tax deductions for the fees paid by children participating in sports. The survey also found lukewarm support for a ban on junk-food advertising and opposition to junk-food taxes.
Guido Van Rosendaal, chair of the council on health care and promotion of the CMA, told the conference that Canada has to begin by setting specific and aggressive public-health goals related to child health.
Delegates were also presented with sobering statistics showing that Canada has an infant mortality rate of 5.3 per 1,000 live births, a perinatal mortality rate of 6.3 per 1,000, and a maternal mortality rate of 4.6 per 100,000 live births. These data place Canada in the middle of the pack among developed countries.
Landon Pearson, a former senator and longtime activist now associated with The Landon Pearson Center for the Study of Childhood and Children's Rights at Carleton University in Ottawa, told delegates that Canada has to move beyond the "vague splendid goal of healthy, happy children" and set real targets to improve childhood health.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

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